Many animals brains do not need to develop very much after birth as they are governed mainly by instinct. Elephants, however, are more like humans. After birth, they begin to absorb stimuli and social norms like a sponge. This is, therefore, a vital stage for them, in which they learn much about their behavior and the skills they will need to survive according to the herd into which they are born. This can be likened to human "cultures", which determine different values and morals within that specific culture.
Interestingly, male and female calves are raised differently. Mothers were found to interact in a certain way according to the sex of the calf. In addition, female calves tend to suckle less, but stay with their mothers for longer than the males. Males will branch off into bachelor pods during adolescence, while females will probably stick to the main herd until adulthood and even death.
As newborns, calves spend most of their time eating, sleeping and travelling with their mothers. From 1 to 5 years of age, though, this pattern changes slightly and the calves do not travel and rest as much, but spend the majority of their time feeding to build strength and energy reserves. The calf only suckles exclusively for the first 3 months. Thereafter, although the calf is dependent on its mother for nutrition, its diet will include vegetation. The amount of time spent suckling decreases with age, and they can be weaned any time between the ages of 5 and 10 years.
This phase is followed by adolescence, an exciting time when the elephant establishes its identity and creates a social place for itself within the herd.